Action timeline

1997 – The Center threatened to sue the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service if it failed to immediately list the Alameda whipsnake and 95 other species under the Endangered Species Act. The Service subsequently listed the Alameda whipsnake as threatened.

March 4, 1999 – The Center and Christians Caring for Creation filed a lawsuit against the Service to force designation of critical habitat for the imperiled whipsnake.

October 3, 2000 – The Service designated 406,598 acres of critical habitat in Contra Costa, Alameda, San Joaquin, and Santa Clara counties.

June 7, 2001 – After the Homebuilders Association and other development interest groups filed a lawsuit challenging the economic analysis of the critical habitat designation — aimed at setting habitat protections aside — the Center intervened in the case.

2003 – Although the Eastern District federal court sided with development interests and removed the whipsnake's critical habitat, it ordered the Service to promptly re-designate a revised critical habitat. The Service published a draft recovery plan for the whipsnake and other eastern San Francisco Bay Area chaparral and scrub species.

2005 – The Service re-proposed designation of 203,342 acres of critical habitat, leaving out half the areas it previously determined were essential to the survival and recovery of the whipsnake. The Center filed comments in protest.

October 2, 2006 – The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service released a questionable draft economic analysis of the critical habitat proposal, estimating a wildly inflated cost of $533 million in lost real-estate profits. The Bush administration designated a dramatically reduced final critical habitat for the whipsnake, with protected areas cut by 62 percent from the original proposal to only 154,834 acres. The designation excluded tens of thousands of acres of occupied whipsnake habitat at imminent risk of development and did not include any unoccupied whipsnake habitat.

August 28, 2007 – The Center submitted a notice of intent to sue the Bush administration over the whipsnake's 2005 critical habitat designation and 54 other illegal decisions adversely affecting imperiled species.

May 28, 2013 – The Center wrote a letter to comment on the application of the Oakland Zoo for "take" permits for the Alameda whipsnake under the state and federal Endangered Species Acts for its proposed California Trails exhibit in Knowland Park, in Alameda County. We urged the denial of any permits for this project in its current form. Our denial was substantiated by a May 8 analysis by Shawn Smallwood, PhD, of the effect the zoo's expansion for the exhibit would have on this snake.

February 12, 2015 – The Center filed a lawsuit in federal court in California against the Fish and Wildlife Service for failing to ensure three widely used pesticides — atrazine, 2,4-D and alachlor — wouldn't jeopardize the survival of the delta smelt and Alameda whipsnake.

Photo © Gary A. Beeman